It is not a spoiler to tell you that Jake Johnson is Jurassic World's comic relief. Yes, leading man Chris Pratt has a few key one-liners, but Pratt's former military man Owen Grady is no Star Lord. Therefore, Johnson's moments of levity are a welcome respite from all the dinosaurs running around eating people.
When Screen Rant spoke with Johnson recently about his role in the soon-to-be blockbuster, he refused to take any credit, choosing instead to heap all praise on his director Colin Trevorrow (the two real-life friends previously worked together on the Indie darling Safety Not Guaranteed) for having the entire film things mapped out in his head well in advance. Johnson does a great job explaining what makes Trevorrow's intense preparation such an asset to an actor, and although he claims he knows nothing about future Jurassic films, said he'd happily "give his pinkie" to be in another one.
You are no stranger to doing press for film and television, what for you has been the most interesting or new thing you've experienced doing press for Jurassic World?
Nothing really. To be honest, they all feel similar from small ones to big ones. I think [Chris] Pratt and Bryce [Dallas Howard] have it differently. I did the James Corden show with Bryce and Chris and they'd just gotten back from China. So, I haven't done an international press tour. They were telling me they did a live three-hour show that was broadcast in front of like five million people and that seems pretty crazy. My experience has been pretty [normal]. I'm doing a movie in the fall called Digging For Fire with Joe Swanberg and Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt and Sam Elliott and the press tour for that and this will be exactly the same except for the different in budget is about $150 million.
Are they putting your face on anything interesting, promotionally-speaking?
I know I'm in the video game and that's all I know for sure, which was a pretty wild to go do a voiceover for a video game.
These types of films are so shrouded in secrecy, when did you find out that Colin was directing?
I did. I found out pretty early. Colin and I after working on Safety Not Guaranteed, we were friends before and we were friends after so he just kept me in the loop via text that if they got it, he and Derek [Connolly] were going to re-write it, he wanted me to play this character Lowery, so I knew long before it was announced.
Was there an initial flurry of "Holy sh--" text messages between you when you found out?
[Laughs] Honestly, I know it sounds ridiculous but watching Colin direct Safety Not Guaranteed, which was a $600k movie, he didn't do it like a small movie. It's goofy to say it, but nothing about the fact that he got this movie was surprising to me. It was like, he's ready, he's talented, he knows what he's doing and he directed that little Indie like it was a $150 million-dollar movie.
Bryce said that Colin made the set feel like, not necessarily a blockbuster, but that it felt intimate and she really liked that aspect.
That's right, that's kind of Colin. What was interesting about this movie, when I got to set they had been shooting for months in the hot sun but the crew who didn't know that I knew him spoke of him with such love because he makes it fun. He makes it fun because he loves the movie. I kinda knew no matter what this movie was going to be great because Colin doesn't have a too-cool-for-school attitude. He loves Jurassic Park he wanted to make Jurassic World really fun for the audience and you want to be in movies where the director is unbelievable passionate.
What for you was the most comically difficult thing about keeping things secret? The two younger actors told me about reading the script while it was chained to a desk.
Well there was a security guy around me as I read the script but my thing was, I was doing press for New Girl probably and somebody asked some basic question about the movie and I didn't give anything away really, I just started talking about it briefly and I got a text from Colin the day after it release online saying that Universal contacted him and I'm going to have to keep my mouth more quiet. I was like, "Woah. Sheeesh. Alright." So I tightened up. After that, when people would ask I was not entertaining that question.
Should Lowery survive the film in one piece, what do you think he's going to do next? Will he retire? Stay in the park? Switch jobs?
Well look, this is Jake Johnson doing this answer, but he's going to be working at the park! [Laughs] Lowery is not leaving the park. If the movie comes back for Jurassic World 2 well hell, it would be a shame if he wasn't there, wouldn't it?
Did you get to interact with any of the dinosaur props or dancers or anything? Or were you only in the control room?
I was just in the control room.
Ah, okay. I heard tell of some of the crew members pranking people with the raptor heads, but didn't know if that extended to the cast.
Nah, I missed all that unfortunately.
When do you find out about whether or not they decide on a sequel? Early? Late?
Honestly you're asking the wrong guy. My name comes up the second they decide to put my name in and I will move anything in my schedule to do it. Especially with Colin and Derek, if they're back for the second, I'd give a pinkie to be in it. The way that Colin runs a set is and I've told him this to his face, it's just phenomenal. What's tricky as an actor for me is when a director doesn't quite know, or just doesn't have confidence. So what happens when somebody doesn't have confidence when you're shooting, they want to cover everything imaginable because they have no idea, they want to figure it out in post-production. So then set becomes "Who cares, just shoot it."
What's so great about working with a guy like Colin, he's imagined all of this in his head. He would walk me through what he wanted and where the cameras would go and I could see what he wanted and it was great. So as an actor I'm like, "Great, my job today is to just try and be a piece of this vision he has," and I like doing that. I don't have the vision like he has in this movie so this isn't like, "I know exactly what I want to do with it," it was more, "Colin, what do you think?" And he'd say, "We're coming off an unbelievably tense moment and I want a little lightness from you here. But when you see this, I need you to be really scared and bring the fear back. And I want to shoot it with no edits and I want the camera to be roving," and you'd go, "Great. Let's do it."
That is very well-explained, thank you
Do you mind mentioning that movie Digging For Fire? It's coming out in August, with Rockwell, Anna Kendrick and Brie Larson.
Sure. I like how you're working with no-name actors.
Yeah I just like to work with the real no-name shlubs.
Jurassic World is now in theaters.
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